The Challenge: First impressions mean everything. When embarking on a next-generation hotel design for La Quinta Inn & Suites, the Texas-based company took a fresh approach inside and out. For its new guest-inspired, owner-friendly hotel design, La Quinta first held a design competition to help define the hotel’s appearance and layout. Following the competition, the company enlisted the expertise of 5G Studio to design the new prototype called Del Sol. The completed plans designed by 5G Studio called for bold exterior colors, shapes, and textures that were unique and distinctive to La Quinta.
Mayse & Associates, a Texas-based architectural firm, was instrumental in working with La Quinta and 5G Studio to bring the new Del Sol vision to life. “La Quinta wanted the new prototype design to compete with other hotel brands that catered to contemporary aesthetics and newer generations,” says Roger Sotelo, architect, Mayse & Associates. “With three Del Sols operating, 18 under construction, and an additional 62 in development, we ran into the challenge of what material to use that would address regional variances and still cater to La Quinta’s and 5G Studio’s vision.”
The Solution: Armed with a list of “must haves,” the architects originally looked into solutions that would not sacrifice vital elements to the design. After a lengthy process, Mayse & Associates settled on porcelain tile, but soon learned the porcelain manufacturer was unable to produce the color needed and did not have enough technical support nor the capability to guide the architects with the installation process. Soon after, Holland Marble, a leading provider of stone products in Texas, presented a sintered compact surface as an alternative. After further investigation, the design and construction teams agreed that this was the most viable option for this large project.
Manufactured in Europe and elsewhere, sintered compact surfaces were quickly understood by the design team as a fully customizable surfacing product used for commercial or residential interiors and exteriors. They appreciated that it is made from natural materials with slabs created through a high-pressure and high-temperature sinterization process that replicates in just a few hours the same formation process of natural stone over thousands of years. The resulting lightweight product, resistant to fire, graffiti, UV damage, scratching, high impact, and water, made it an ideal exterior material to withstand the variety of elements the hotels would be subject to across the country. Further, aside from the unique durability and appearance, the selected manufacturer was able to create the custom colors that were crucial for the project, while Holland Marble provided the technical support needed to guide the installation process.
La Quinta had a very specific aesthetic and quality it wanted to achieve with its new contemporary prototype, and the selected team was the only one able to achieve the exact look and create the custom color. “The manufacturer and installer team addressed our concerns from a whole project perspective; both were exceptional in their collaboration and execution of La Quinta’s desired design concept,” says architect Sotelo. “They were willing to work with La Quinta to achieve the custom color iterations desired for their prototype design. They were head and shoulders above the competition in their bids for the prototype material due to their willingness to entertain the long and arduous process of creating custom colors.” A variation of one of the manufacturer’s standard colors became the inspiration for the custom color for the exterior with its impressive natural metal tones and textures that delivers a unique look.
In order to install the large panels for this project, a thin-set mortar application was preferred. The advantages of a thin-set application is that it may be used in areas where there are high amounts of moisture present, and although thin-set is not waterproof, it isn’t water soluble. Thin-set is also inorganic, and thus is not a food source for mold growth.
Results: With its unique durability and ability to achieve the exact color desired, sintered compact surfaces were able to bring forth the vision of La Quinta, 5G Studio, and Mayse & Associates. With a passion for success, La Quinta needed its new Del Sol design to match the integrity of the brand both inside and out. By selecting a pioneer in the sintered compact surface industry, they were able to provide just that—integrity and durability—while successfully combining iconic brand elements with streamlined architecture and clean geometric lines. Sintered compact surfaces provided the confidence the team needed and the freedom to create their idealized prototype design.
Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP has authored more than 120 continuing education and technical publications as part of his national architecture and green building practice. www.linkedin.com/in/pjaarch